Pavel Fedotov – Russian painter
Pavel Fedotov was a Russian painter and graphic artist, one of the leading representatives of Russian Romanticism, the founder of critical realism in Russian painting. Officer of the household troops in the Finland regiment became an artist.
Pavel was born on June 22 (4 July), 1815 in Moscow into the family of Andrey Fedotov, who served in the army during the reign of Catherine. His childhood was spent in poverty. His father wanted to see him in a military career and at the age of 11 Pavel entered the First Moscow Cadet Corps. His favorite subjects were mathematics and chemistry, but he also liked to draw. Fedotov read a lot, studied languages, took an interest in music and wrote poetry.
In 1834 Pavel was sent to St. Petersburg, where he served for 10 years. Fedotov attended drawing lessons at the Academy of Fine Arts. His pencil brought to life scenes of senseless, exhausting drills; the themes of his drawings and watercolors were military exercises and camp service.
Fedotov thought about retirement and asked Karl Bryullov, whose fame had spread all over Europe, to give his assessment of his works. Bryullov gave the young artist his blessing. On the difficult path of selfless service to art he had to face poverty, privations and loneliness. Fedotov drew everywhere —at the marketplaces, at the trading rows, in government departments and on the street.
In 1848 he became an academician, and after the exhibition his name became known to the general public. The painting that brought Fedotov widespread fame was The Major’s Marriage Proposal. Fedotov’s works made a huge impression on his contemporaries. They could sense the artist’s innovatoriness both in his treatment of quite new themes, in his critical attitude to reality and in his new creative method which allowed genre painting to attain the level of socially significant art.
His life ended tragically. He died at thirty-seven (in November 1852) in a psychiatric hospital in St. Petersburg and was buried at the Smolensk Orthodox cemetery. In 1936, the artist’s ashes were reburied in the necropolis of masters of arts in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra.